Affordable-housing developer to break ground on Belmont project

Centria Square - Developed by Laurel Street

Charlotte Business Journal, Ashley Fahey, August 4, 2016

A Charlotte developer is starting work on an affordable-housing project in the Belmont neighborhood.

Laurel Street Residential, in partnership with St. Paul Baptist Church, will break ground on an affordable multifamily development at 1322 Allen St. at 6 p.m. today . The 112-unit community will include a 60-unit, senior-housing building, 29 townhouse-style units and a 23-unit garden-style apartment building.

The rentals are designated for seniors and families that earn 60% of the area’s medium income and below for their appropriate household size.

Today’s event will be in the youth sanctuary of St. Paul Baptist Church, at 1401 Allen St., and will include several speakers — George Dunlap, Mecklenburg County commissioner and chairman of the St. Paul board of directors; Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners Chairman Trevor Fuller; Councilwoman Patsy Kinsey; and Gwen Garnett, president of Zechariah Alexander Community Development Corp., an affiliate of St. Paul Baptist and a financier to the project.

The project is scheduled to be completed in late 2017.

“It is important that we create stable housing options for longstanding members of our historic communities, such as the Belmont neighborhood,” Dunlap said in a statement. “We understand that Charlotte will continue to grow, but we need affordable communities like this to give current residents with fixed or limited incomes the opportunity to stay and live in their communities.”

The development serves as the residential component of the envisioned master plan by St. Paul Baptist Church to expand affordable housing in the Belmont neighborhood. Amenities will include outdoor sitting areas, a playground, a computer center, a community room, a fitness center and a covered picnic area.

The stated goal of the project is to help manage the impact of gentrification on the local community while respecting the medium-density residential character and the history of the surrounding neighborhood.

St. Paul Baptist Church has been on Allen Street since it was displaced in 1969 during the Brooklyn neighborhood urban renewal initiative.

“St. Paul’s vision for this development could not be possible without the public partnership and investment from the City of Charlotte,” said Dionne Nelson, principal of Laurel Street Residential, in a statement. “In addition, with the development’s proximity to a future light rail stop, we understand the importance of providing affordable housing for seniors and families along the Blue Line extension in order to make accessible transportation options available for people of all incomes.”

Laurel Street Residential, general contractor Miles McClellan Construction, architect Neighboring Concepts and civil engineer Bohler Engineering are working on the project.

The development is being financed by public and private investments, including a 4% tax credit and tax-exempt bond allocation from the N.C. Housing Finance Agency, a $4.35 million loan from the City of Charlotte Housing Trust Fund, an $8 million construction loan from Bank of America, permanent financing from Greystone, and loans from the Zechariah Alexander CDC and St. Paul Baptist Church.

Affordable housing continues to be a challenge in Charlotte as the city grows, causing apartment rates to spike. The median monthly rent for a one-bedroom unit in Charlotte in July was $1,050, according to Apartment List’s August report. A two-bedroom apartment in the Queen City costs an average of $1,150 a month.

According to the report, local rental rates have increased over the year by 3.6%. Nationally, Charlotte is ranked 32nd-highest for one-bedroom rental rates.

In Charlotte, Laurel Street Residential’s portfolio also includes The Renaissance on East Boulevard, developed in partnership with the Charlotte Housing Authority, that contains a mixture of age-restricted, mixed-income and affordable-housing units.

Read the original article in the Charlotte Business Journal.